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Comments on: Handspring Visor Pro Review

Last week, Handspring released a new mid-range model, the Visor Pro. This is the first Palm OS device ever to ship with 16 MB of internal memory. It has a monochrome screen and is the successor to the Visor Platinum, which will eventually be phased out.

News Editor Ed Hardy has had a Pro since before its official announcement and brings us this review.

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Pro Slower than Platinum?

chbarr @ 9/24/2001 11:04:47 AM #
Saw one of these at a nationall office supply store chain. Had my Visor Platinum with me, and they had live Visor Neos and Pros. I quietly beamed Quartus benchmark 2.0 to them, aided by my SO (deleting it after I departed). My Platinum checks in at 204% (100% being a Palm IIIe).

The Neo came in at 204% as well. So, asside from a nice case and the LED, it's basically the same box.

The Pro, on the other hand came in at 164%! Did't know what to make of that one--perhaps addressing the extra RAM affected speed? I have the 8 MB Flash SpringBoard, which doesn't seem to have an adverse affect, but it could be different from having to address physical RAM.

Or, there could be some other subtly I'm missing.

Thoughts?

RE: Pro Slower than Platinum?
Ed @ 9/24/2001 11:22:03 AM #
James Hromadka, while doing his review of the Pro, noticed the same thing using PocketMark 0.2.1. He had a Platinum to do some real world testing and found out that despite the scores, the Pro actually ran applications more quickly:

http://www.visorcentral.com/page/0-6-121-2-6.htm

---
News Editor

Great review !

I.M. Anonymous @ 9/24/2001 11:08:25 AM #
Ed, are you going to review Visor Neo too ?

RE: Great review !
Ed @ 9/24/2001 11:19:35 AM #
Thanks, I'm glad you liked it. Now that I've finished this one I can start on the Neo.

---
News Editor
RE: Great review !
jeremyf @ 9/24/2001 7:33:55 PM #
I liked the review a lot, but I don't get the ratings? This system has 16mb, great screen, great stylus, most accessories and expandability of any system, it has a cradle, but it scores less on every dimension than the CLIE S320?

Do the jog dial, casing, and price mean that much?

(If you add a cradle and an 8mb memstick to the CLIE, you're almost up to the Pro's cost)

RE: Great review !
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/26/2001 4:09:41 AM #
Since now that you've added 8MB MS to CLIE, I'd suggest adding a memory card adapter/springboard (CF/SM/MS/SD/WHATEVER) and a 8MB memory card...

Now you've also added up the price of the Visor Pro...

I have my own bias, there's no doubt about it... I hate most if not all Sony digicams and several other stuff they make... but I absolutely love CLIE...

JogDial is something rather like mouse, or the wheel on the wheel mouse, once you got used to them, you won't want to do without'em... (I found myself looking for a jogdial when I was trying out a m125 at a Staples store)

There are other features as well, but the combination of low price, feature loaded unit, and other convience (like travel charger). Sony did make their unit a lot more attractive than others.

As another poster had said, it seems that they are giving us one major feature at a time, I guess I'll likely be upgrading when Sony is offering something that comes with BOTH high resolution screen and 16MB or more of main memory.

Of course, if someone else can beat Sony, I'm all for that, nothing improves progress more than healthy some healthy battles between those makers... (hopefully no legal battles, just technological battles would do just fine.)

I wanted this two months ago

I.M. Anonymous @ 9/24/2001 11:35:11 AM #
When the visorphone came out, I wanted a rechargeable black and white visor. Such a thing only existed in the Edge model, so I got it. It's sexy and slim, but the springboard sleeve actually makes it THICKER than the usual Visor size.

Sure, the Pro is evolutionary. But it fills a critical gap in Handspring's product line. I wish it had been available 2 months ago.

Way to go Handspring!

chewer @ 9/24/2001 11:38:44 AM #
I enjoyed your review Ed! I have had my Visor Pro for nearly a week and am extremely satisfied. The additional RAM, upgraded screen, internal power source and professional looks make this unit a winner for me. I have purchased Pro's for nearly half of my salesforce and every one of them gives it the thumbs up. We use our Visor's in the field and have little use for a power draining color unit, love the design of HS products and utilize the expansion slot with a variety of springboards. This is the product for power users and professionals.
I can see why people are wondering why HS did'nt come with a color screen or a smaller sized unit. However, I have found that for use in the field, color screens and small casings are a detriment. We field tested almost evey possible Palm OS unit including the M505, Palm V, TRGPro, Palm III and Visor Prism before settling on the Visor Platinum. The small units and those with color screens received the worst reports from the field. The Platinum received the best so we went with it until the Pro was
introduced. The size, style and capabilites of this unit are perfect. Color is a nice feature on a PDA. So is a small, sleek casing. However, the Pro has a great monochrome screen which is perfect for reports and it has a sturdy, professional looking case. This may not be the unit for gamers or people who like to view photos on their PDA, but for anyone else it is perfect. The Visor Pro replaces my Platinum and will join my Edge as the two PDA's I live and work with. Way to go Handspring!



RE: Way to go Handspring!
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/24/2001 1:17:51 PM #
I have used a Platinum since January (replaced my III) and it has served me well. I don't care for the design much and the backlight is unusable except in the dark, but it has been a terrific purchase. I think the Edge was a step in the right direction . . it was more of a risk than Palm has taken for a long time. Count me in with the growing bunch of those who think Palm is dropping the ball with their hardware AND their software. Maybe the BeOS integration will be the ace in the hole!

a better alternative...

I.M. Anonymous @ 9/24/2001 12:07:40 PM #
The HandEra 330 is essentially the same price and blows away the Visor Pro in nearly every category. I've even seen some posts that CompUSA is selling them for $299. The only interesting thing about the Pro is the rechargable battery.

RE: a better alternative...
kevdo @ 9/24/2001 12:26:17 PM #
>blows away the Visor Pro in nearly every category.

Well, except for RAM, right??

Seriously, 16 MB of RAM is a pretty dang compelling feature. Only wish Palm would have the guts to make an m505x or m510 or m515 with 16 BM of RAM (and slightly brighter backlighting).

I'm rapidly running out of RAM on my 8 MB Palm.

RE: a better alternative...
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/24/2001 3:04:36 PM #
except of course the handera has a CF and SD slot. i have an 128MB CF and 16MB SD bringing my handera to 152MB. that's of course if I choose not to use the microdrive (1gb baby). let's see the pro do that.

RE: a better alternative...
chewer @ 9/24/2001 3:33:35 PM #
The Pro can go two better than the HandEra, which is also an excellent PDA. There are currently, inexpensive, springboard adaptors for use with both Compact Flash and Smart Media cards. SD and Memory Stick modules are in development and should be available by the end of 2001. With their introduction, Handspring products will have the ability to expand in five distinct ways. Versatility is the name of the game and Handspring delivers that versatility through the use of their springboard technology. That is not to say that the HandEra is not a great product because it is. I love the virtual graffiti technology and the screen on the HandEra is awsome. However, lets not knock the Visor Pro becasue it is an equally fine product. The whole point of the Visor, and ultimatley Jeff Hawkins vision for PDA's, is that every product does not need to have every feature. Springboard technology makes it possible for Visor users to customize their pda's to fit thier own, individual, needs. I, personally, think that HandEra,, Handspring, Palm and Sony each makes great products and each seems to be finding their own niche in the industry. I chose the Visor, after trying several other pda's, because I could, essentially, build my own product from the ground up. I like that versatility. Other consumers have their own reasons for purchasing the product they own. We all have our own reasons and as long as your happy with the product your using, why would you want to knock the product someone else uses?

RE: a better alternative...
james_sorenson @ 9/24/2001 3:35:00 PM #
The Visor Pro CAN do that...and more. Just get a Compact Flash or Smart-Media Springboard adapter. The Visor is not limited to just memory either. As for why having 16MB BUILT-IN memory is so compelling: no-one has to deal with hacks or limit themselves to VFS-enabled software to make use of all the memory. It is simply easier and more stable to work with. For the VisorPhone users (like me), it will be nice to have a good chunk of memory without having to swap springboards.

-------
James Sorenson
RE: a better alternative...
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/24/2001 9:51:21 PM #
If you need to get a CF adaptor to do anything, why not just use CF in the first place? Anyhow, is there VFS support out of beta yet for the Visors to use CF adaptors that way? My understanding is that the Springboard slot does not provide enough power for anything but CF memory cards in any case. Anyhow, I think Handspring should have gone to dual slot with both SD and Springboard. It would have been cheap to do, probably fit the case easily, and add a level of standardization across Palm devices.

RE: a better alternative...
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/24/2001 11:34:58 PM #
HandEra cool. Eyemodule2 cooler.

RE: a better alternative...
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/25/2001 12:17:34 AM #
I am so pleased to read a review and the follow-up postings that did not degenerate (Is that the proper word?) into a "Handspring Bashing" or a "My PDA is bigger than your PDA". Just intelligent, coherent conversation that relates to the actual product! Lets see if we can keep the momentum going on this website.

I think that this is the perfect handheld for Doctors. The databases that are available for Doctors eat RAM for breakfast. With the Pro, you can fill it up with Databases, and leave the Springboard slot available for a nice dictation device.

I say three cheers for Handspring. They take a lot of flak for being "boxy" and "dated", but if you look at most of the new handhelds out on the market now, most of them are utilizing handspring technology. (USB, 65K colors, etc...) Soon, we will see most handheld manufacturers shipping a model with 16mb of RAM. Good for Handspring for being the first out the door with this innovative product.

Doug

RE: a better alternative...
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/25/2001 8:07:50 AM #
For databases that "eat RAM for breakfast" as you describe, 16MB of RAM isn't enough either. The best option is to go though VFS on an expansion card.

Visor Pro battery life with CSM150

I.M. Anonymous @ 9/24/2001 12:20:44 PM #
This may be a long shot but does anyone have any experience using
the Visor Pro with the Symbol CSM150 barcode scanner module ?
We've been the module with the Platinum but the biggest drawback has
been the battery drain. What I'd like is some sort of numbers on how
many scans per charge or how many hours use with the scanner module..
something like that.
TIA

Cost Benefit 3 ???

I.M. Anonymous @ 9/25/2001 12:35:54 AM #
Wow the first ever PDA with built in 16 meg, recharge and springboard, not to mention, fast look-up, some of the best calculator around and a 1 year warrenty and you give this a cost benefit 3 ??? I guess you are partial to other devices.

A right product strategy

I.M. Anonymous @ 9/25/2001 1:34:40 AM #
At the first glance I was disappointed with what HS offers, but after some thought I suppose they are doing a goo job. Since Pro is evolutionary, the risk of product failure will be lower. Second, there will be rooms for price cuts as the cost of development will be pretty low. It may not be so attractive to current Palm or Clie users, but it is really so for current visor users, memory-hungry guys, and new users who care price more than features. Fourth, we all suppose the world economy to be declining at least in these few years, and a model with good features and not-too-high price will be more competitive. In all, HS is moving on a right track, though such move is controversial among tech-lovers.

Visor Pro outshines! (but...)

I.M. Anonymous @ 9/25/2001 2:00:08 AM #
Lets talk a little about the pricing on Palm OS and WinCE devices.

I've been using Palm V for 1.5 years, which is my first and only PDA so far. I love Palm OS apps, and really understand nothing on the WinCE aspect.

But I was shocked when I read some articles about the new Casio BE-300 just yesterday. Here are its specs:

16MB Ram + 16MB Flash Rom
166 MHz CPU, which can executes 2 instructions at the same time(!)
320x240 pixel, 15-bit LCD, 32K colors
167g
12.1cm x 7.6cm x 1.8 cm (not heavyweight)

All that just for $300!!!
HOLY SH*TNESS!!!! Same price as Visor Pro, HandEra 330, and is cheaper than m505's $400!!

What gives?:(


RE: Visor Pro outshines! (but...)
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/25/2001 3:29:28 AM #
Okay, well on the Windows CE aspect, it *needs* that big fast processor because Windoze CE is very slow. very slow.

I've switched from a Philips Velo 500 (75 Mhz processor) with 16 Mb of RAM to a Palm IIIxe.

I am currently running the IIIxe at 10 MHz because I'm a tight Englishman, and it saves battery power. I used several PocketPCs (okay, not this one), including the 200+ MHz Casio E-115 devices, before opting for the much cheaper IIIxe. With four times the memory, a much faster processor, colour and rechargeables they are nice machines.

Unfortunately, battery performance is dismal. I'll get over ten days from my IIIxe (rechargeable batteries not alkaline AAAs), my boss used to get four hours from his Casio. Hmph.

Furthermore, the time taken to switch to the Contacts database and search for a contact (my database contains over 1100 entries) for the Casio is longer than the Palm IIIxe clocked at 10 MHz! I didn't believe that myself. Try running an Outlook search on a desktop then the same search on a standard Palm and the Palm wastes the 1 GHz desktop any time!

PalmOS is also easier to use. It doesn't multitask in the same way (okay guys, it's a simplistic statement, but you know what I mean) but that means you don't have to open eight (!) menus to close an application.

It'll be a nice machine to use if you want all the gizmos, but if you want an organiser with capabilities beyond the basic PIM, Palm's the one for me.

Palm are too expensive
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/25/2001 8:13:44 AM #
compared with the Pocket PCs, Palms are too expensive : you only get 8 MO RAM, usually a black and white screen, no fast ARM chip, and no speaker. Where does the money go? Imagine a Palm IIIC (I like my old machine) with the equivalent in terms of memory, screen and high speed microchip : it would be a real impressive machine, fast enough to run multimedia stuff. And imagine muscled versions of the existing Sony or Palm M505. Unfortunately once available (I wish in a near future), they will be twice more expensive than the existing equivalents ! You will find than even a laptop will be more affordable...

Expensive?
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/25/2001 8:55:38 AM #
The Motorola processor which was incorporated in the first Macintoshes drive today all the Palms - the Dragonball costs about US$ 5.-
The price of the Palm today is depending on first class tickets and expenses for the CO's at Palm. Development in the contary is not a figure in that calculation. The developers sacket. Its a old wisdom, the empty bottle(s) always swim on top.

Meaning of 16MB of RAM
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/26/2001 12:24:19 AM #
16MB of RAM goes quite a bit further on a PalmOS device than it does on a WinCE device. Granted, if all your doing is filling your memory with maps or books it'll be the same either way, but if your trying to get a lot of programs on there, PalmOS apps compile to a much smaller executable than do apps for WindowsCE. So when you compare memory between the two devices, you have to remember that the PalmOS typically uses memory as efficiently as possible, while Windows (WinCE in the case of this discussion) uses memory very carelessly.

RE: Visor Pro outshines! (but...)
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/27/2001 5:19:53 AM #
I'm working in a firm which developes softwares for different pdas. I've tested for now on (Used for about more than a month per device) Handspring Visor Dx, Prism, Palm V, Vx, Compaq Ipaq 3630 32meg and HP Jornada 540 (also a 32meg one).
First i tested (used) all the Palm Os Devices.
Then i moved on to WinCe Devices... Whoaah... Pretty nice, but i hated all of their bugs and MS-sickness.

The first thing which told me to throw away those battery eaters was the thing that if i would like to use my PDA, like i did with palm os, i had to carry my cradle with me to disable the whining pocket pc going out of battery every 6 hours...

Tommi

my $.02

jericho34 @ 9/25/2001 5:37:12 PM #
all the recent palms that came out have had some sort of truely nifty advances, the handera with it's collapsible grafiti&hi rez, the sony with it's 99.9% backwards compatible hi rez screen, and now handspring with it's higher memory capacity. the only thing is that pretty much everybody has only done one thing at a time. with any and all luck someone will combine all of these and add essentals like built in run-off-the-card support, reasonably priced wireless, ect.

quote of the month-
the worst crime aganst yourself is to wast time. time is the one thing that you can never get back
-yet another famous dead guy
RE: my $.02
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/26/2001 3:56:36 AM #
Agreed. Currently, we have to pick . . . however it also depends what you want (and need) your device to do.

For my own use, switching to the M505 (say) would bring me no additional benefit from my IIIxe. I use rechargeable batteries in the IIIxe, don't need colour, don't need the speed . . .

PDAs will always struggle with a small screen and small, poor quality speakers - I don't really see the point in being able to play AVI files! Yes, there may be a point in playing MP3s, but MP3 players are smaller and cheaper than a Palm / WinCE device. And, yes, I have heard some of the newer stereo WinCE devices . . . but their speakers remain tiny little things. Until they come up with some way of using a larger screen (folding design or something), heh, it's a gadget rather than some use.

Also another important point is that WinCE devices do cost more than Palms in the UK. If the price of two devices were similar, I'd look closer at it, but whilst PalmOS devices are cheaper, and offer no real benefit to me (in my own selfish world, I appreciate), PalmOS is for me.

One final point is that WinCE devices are still catching up with the OS - fitting faster processors and more memory. The OS has been written with high end applications in mind. This seems too much of a handicap for small devices given the current technology / cost barriers. Give it five years . . . maybe ten . . . until then, for me (and other users I know) the simplicity of the Palm's operating system wins us over - and the superior battery performance, too!

Somethin tells me they're goin to...

I.M. Anonymous @ 9/30/2001 6:57:29 AM #
I have a gut feelin that somethin big is goin to happen...like another announcement from Handspringor other manufacturer coming soon, surely these guys aren't goin to sit on their butts while MS releases another bomb and I see prices dropping on the older models so...and those PPC guys are just goin to kill themselves by pricing their pdas too high during an economic slowdown.

Don't count on it...
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/30/2001 8:36:18 AM #
...

Only one thing missing...

I.M. Anonymous @ 10/3/2001 4:17:34 PM #
...Color screen. I would get this over the Palm m505, if it had a color screen. Does anyone know if they are comming out with one this year?

RE: Only one thing missing...
I.M. Anonymous @ 10/28/2001 2:16:25 PM #
I read a very interesting post by the owner of Kopsis.

He said that Handspring, being a small company, needed to find a specific area in which they could excel, and gain an advantage over the larger companies.

They chose the springboard, which, for numerous reasons, has not succeeded (costs to much, small overall market, etc.)

They have now reexamined their position, and are moving to capture the PDA/phone combo market. He feels this is probably a good idea, but he also feels that, based on HandSpring's size,the won't have the resources to continue to expand thier Visor line while paying engineers to design the new Treo lines. AND, the Treo line is what can save their company, so YOU guess where they are going to direct their resources!

Based on the newest PDA's from Handspring, it's obvious that there was basically no need to assign ANY engineers to work on the Pro or Neo.All new features are basically old hat.

Please don't flame, I'm just passing on what I heard, and what I feel is a good summary of Handsprings situation to date.

comment on your review on Visor Pro

I.M. Anonymous @ 1/16/2002 12:08:11 AM #
WOW, I've been searching for a good review and yours was the best! Thanks for taking the time to right all those details! It really helped!

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